2016 February❮❮prevnext❯❯

February 1, 2016

Science is Magic.
Lord of the Rings as "every crappy enterprise IT project" ever:

Kind of brilliant! I like how there doesn't even have to be a bad guy, per se...
The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy ...timing!!!

February 2, 2016

Aw jeez. Cruz is a "sweet lovin' son of a preacher man" too? Dammit. Lets hope this doesn't get out.
January 2016 One Second Everyday

Besides the usual "lots of music", I liked the aquarium in the 9th and the slow motion water bubbler on the 30th.
Obama fortifying East to deter Putin. This doesn't feel like a good idea to me, just feeding into Russia's paranoia about our possible intentions on offense.
How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off Intriguing.... besides obvious possible suggestions for my friends-with-kids, I think about how much I love the concept of "JUST MAKE A GAME DO IT NOW NOW NOW" of http://glorioustrainwrecks.com/ . I gotta get back to that site.

january 2016 new music playlist

Ok month for music to start the year. You GOTTA watch the alternate video for TOO MANY ZOOZ.

February 4, 2016

http://trumpdonald.org This is fun
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.
Goethe (as quoted by W. H. Murray in Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art")

February 5, 2016


On my bdevblog: gripe: bad second guessing ui

February 6, 2016

Nutrition is weird. I do hate it when something that seems like it should be more or less "ok" has nutritional gotchas. On the other hand, unlike the burger, people are less likely to have that salad with fries. I hope.
The Big Sleep, about a couple who lived incredibly full and rich lives and decided to exit it on their own terms. As much as my comic is for people uptight about their own mortality, I think we have to admire people who are at ease with it, who make very rational and humanistic decisions that being alive is worth it for the amazing things you find it, not strictly for its own sake, or because of supernatural prohibition against ending it.

February 7, 2016


valentine blender

February 8, 2016

Bill the Splut mentioned the first half of Bob and Ray has also passed on - great low-key comedy. (Like he said, "By the time we figured out we were introverts, it was too late to do anything about it.") This bit Bill shared is great:

Frinkiac is a great Simpsons' quote finder and meme maker:

That's one of my favorite quotes, just a reminder at how out of perspective problems are when they show up right in front of us.
A kiss is just a kiss, but a sigh is a reflex that happens a several times an hour and helps preserve lung function.
My sousaphone roots, Euclid High School Panther Marching Band!

The 1991 Homecoming Game, by the looks of it.

February 9, 2016

from Slate's Exercise Advice for Flappers, in Gorgeous 1920s Prints

February 10, 2016

Introducing Vector Networks - I'm looking forward to software with this. I love the idea of vectors for shapes but the indirectness of the interaction always left me stumbling -- beziers are really tough for humans to deal with.
My Little Sister Taught Me How To 'Snapchat Like The Teens' - This one has been making the rounds. I would love to see a video of someone doing 40 snapchat responses in less than a minute. I'm not sure I've ever felt on the old/young divide as much as with this; to not just accept the "too many incoming messages" paradigm but to embrace it, surf it, make more of it; to have each interaction be SO ephemeral (which was part of the value proposition of Snapchat, it tattletaled if the other person grabbed a screenshot.)

I wonder how and if kids who are into this mode of communication (which almost strains credulity, as described in there) make a distinction between "this photo interaction was as ephemeral as a glance across the table" and "this artifact is worth holding on to".
Amazing emergent patterns from overlaying semi-random and then regular patterns of dots:

How Star Wars The Force Awakens Should Have Ended SPOILER ALERTS but MAN is it funny...
wife: go see if the baby sleeping
*walks into baby's room*
baby: corporations exploit our
insecurities for profit
me: no babe she woke af
I've been thinking about this tweet a lot. Besides the baby's point, I do think internet patois is cool af.

February 11, 2016

The Worst Best Hackathon ever.
So OK GO shares the Zero G Flight experience!

It's probably as authentic as it claims (no wires or green screen) but I don't think there's any way it could be "one take"... clever editing though
http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/02/im-voting-for-hillary-because-of-my-daughter.html Some friends of mine were saying "There might be many reasons to vote for Hilary but if you're voting for her solely because she's a woman, you're sexist". To me that sounded like a bit of a strawman case, they claim that that (the "JUST because she's a woman" aspect) was what they had heard, but I think vanishingly few people are truly strictly single issue voters in that way; the candidate has to be in the ballpark to begin with, or else we would have heard more "Hilary OR Carly Fiorina".

My take on it is this: everyone has to- and generally does- evaluate candidates in a multidimensional way. Some factors you like, some factors you don't. If the claim is that it's somehow illegitimate for "gender alone" to be one of those many factors, I think you then have to explain 227 years of electing nuthin' but dudes to the highest office in the land. Just coincidence then, that in two centuries the best qualified person was always a guy?

Maybe you could argue that it's off balance for gender to be a disproportionately large litmus among many factor, but even then - stopping the signal to half the population that "you're not qualified for this because of your gender" is a worthy goal. And when you think of the mishmash nightmare of national politics an unambiguous signal stoppage would be a clear victory for humanity, vs the more uncertain world of political outcomes. (Even if you dig a person with progressive tendencies, and they win, you have to acknowledge the political landscape will be brutally polarized and obstructed. Possibly even more so than the last 8 years, so whatever ambitions you have need to be tempered with the fact that almost half the population disagrees vehemently with you)
Here's the Eventbrite for the event I'll be joining in on tuba on Saturday and Sunday - free / but donations accepted...

amor fati

"My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it--all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary--but love it."
I enocunted the concept of "amor fati" the other day. Roughly translated, it's "the love of one's fate". More roughly translated, it's an admonition to love this life, this circumstance; it's the only one you're going to get.

I feel like in the mid-90s; somewhere between the end of the Cold War as we knew it and before I started listening to the Y2K worrywarts, I carried myself with a bit more joie-de-vivre; I remember a receptionist commenting on how I was more likely to walk around with a boppy little song.

More recently, I've been so frustrated with my own sense of rage at minor inconveniences, like bad traffic, or recalcitrant computer hardware and software. I wonder if really embracing Amor Fati could help with that.

I think it would make a good tattoo. But maybe I'll start with my phone wallpaper or my next custom case.

Photo semi-related -- Tempus Fugit has some similar implications, but has more anxiety producing potential. But I really liked the design, by Bnomio

The Scots-Irish or "American" whites who see Trump as their champion are profoundly different from the metropolitan whites who dominate the upper echelons of U.S. society--so much so that the convention of lumping them together as "white" detracts far more from our understanding of how they fit into our society than it adds to it. J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, a forthcoming book on the place of Appalachian whites in modern America, estimates that roughly one-quarter of whites belong to the Scots-Irish tribe that has embraced Trump. If we were to separate out these Americans as a race or ethnicity unto themselves, Vance writes, we would finds rates of poverty and substance abuse that would shock our national conscience. But we don't generally collect detailed statistics on the Scots-Irish. We don't have a clear sense of how their labor force participation or disability rates compare to those of other Americans, including other white Americans. And so their experiences and their collective traumas blend into whiteness, where they can be safely ignored. Whites are privileged, after all.
Subtitled 'I do hate the Republicans who've enabled his remarkable popularity.'

That may be a rather profound point about "whiteness" in the USA. I mean I think there will always be some privilege from, at a glance, looking like the privileged class, but it might not be as much as us city slickers assume.
There's a lot I agree with with David Brooks on Bernie's Danish Dream and a lot that I don't.

February 13, 2016

Minutes after Scalia's death right-wingers seek to block nominee Obama hasn't even appointed yet I had just heard about Scalia's death but I thought this was an Onion headline.

February 14, 2016

Boot at Bread and Puppet

The One Thing The NFL Will Never Do To Make Football Safer. Spoiler: remove the padding and helmets. Like the "protection" added by boxing gloves, the body armor they wear lets the hits be a lot more forceful without as much visible damage at the time, and so leads to much worse long term problems.

February 15, 2016

Stupid people only see the beauty in beautiful things. I'm gonna go get some string cheese!
Me to Melissa
From this morning. Then when posting this had to confirm that her name was spelled with just one "L". #bestboyfriendever

February 16, 2016

NASA is providing keen free downloadable retro-future posters of space tourism...

Contronyms. Words that are their own opposite. English. Is. Weird.
Roses are red, violets are blue
People think it don't be like it is, but it do

February 17, 2016

Heh, a video of 101 Character Mario Kart
20 People Who Accidentally Dressed Like Something Else I enjoyed this collection.
A while back James Harvey posted a reposting of his own rant, and it stuck with me - useful when people argue against team productions as being less than single person artistry (coming up on a discussion about Kanye West now)

A photo of Geddy Lee (lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for "Rush") being assigned the quote
I play bass, and sing all while playing keyboards with my hands and feet, tell me more about Beyonce's 'artistry'
JH's retort:
Well, she's written a massive string of top ten hits and she can sing and dance her ass off like you never, ever could, motherfucker. Whoop-de-doo, you can play the piano with your feet. Do you really think the only artists who deserve respect are circus freaks like you, who spent their whole life learning a party trick that impresses no-one but complete and utter rubes? You probably think the One Man Band man in the park is the greatest artist of the 21st century. Are we going to pretend this isn't about your latent misogyny or are you gonna get back on your conservative shitwagon and get the fuck out of here"
(I do not think the first quote was authentic)
Good advice...

February 18, 2016

"Awlaki was, to a certain cast of mind, a mesmerizing preacher. This world is but a station, he proclaimed. It is the next station, the Hereafter, that matters. 'We do not belong here. We are travelling. . . . We need to prepare for death.'"
I think this is problematic with a lot of faiths, especially with an emphasis on a supernatural hereafter, and in fact the Awlaki quote reminds me of messages I would get from time to time in my Christian church upbringing. Why give a damn (so to speak) about anything around us, what in the finite can measure up to the infinite that awaits? Yeah, some faiths say God wants to be good stewards, but why worry about the planet when we're careening toward the apocalypse? (Revelation was written 19 centuries ago, and still waiting, but it must be around the corner now...) Some religions emphasize charity and kindness in the here and now but those goals have to be weighed in the balance of spreading the word and fighting the fight.

I understand faith adds to the lives of many people. On the one hand, a more mature faith is balanced by basic humanity concerns, but if you start using "basic human concerns" as a litmus test for your religion, you're down the path of admitting they might be more important than religion... that it's something with common values that might transcend which of the many, many possible faiths we cling to. I wish establishing that common ground was the priority - it seems a lot healthier than this "people of faith, any faith no matter how mutually incompatible" lined up on the righthand sheep side against the skeptics on the lefthand goat side..

I know in some ways science - or rather, what science thinks is most likely true about how the universe functions, for now - requires some kind of faith. I've often longed for a good kitchen-sink science demonstration of atomic theory! (And one of the things I found bugging me most in the Scalia retrospectives was that he thought evolution was just a theory, and a crummy theory at that.) But why science differs from most other faiths is that it offers a method of its own correction; its core is coming up with ideas, and putting them to the test, and letting other people put them to the test. Knowledge is painstakingly grown, not handed from on high, or merely homegrown in our hearts. (And science doesn't tell us what to do - you can't get ought from is -- that's the job of moral philosophy, and when people try to shove science into that role you get crap like social darwinism.)

The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens I'm less interested in the rags-to-riches-to-rags aspect than the general take on tumblr culture; admittedly FB has been a better mirror for my old (and ongoing) kisrael.com but I really appreciate the "relatable" style culture, relative to other cultures (twitter or especially chan/twitter) it is very human.
Wow, an insult that bugs that Short-Fingered Vulgarian.
In 1990 my high school marching band travelled to Detroit for a band competition and the parade... jump to 27:50 for some fine tuba, cymbals, and majorette dancin' to "My Sharona".

Good for anyone who has a fetish for badly lit vintage shots of the Henry Ford Museum.

February 19, 2016

Rightwingers reminding Democrats that Republicans are the "The Party of Lincoln" should be reminded that Reagan was a Democrat in the 50s.
A nice tour of the evolution of webdesign, 1991-2015, showing one NASA site evolving to match the trends in web design over the years.


February 20, 2016

A few days ago I posted Tadashi Tokieda's video about rotating, translating and, scaling patterns: 'random' dots, fixed grids, and triangles...
Today I built a virtual toy to play with those ideas in the browser (for those of us who don't have a photocopier that prints on overlays handy) -- http://stuff.alienbill.com/dotsenough/

February 21, 2016

Super cute Calvin and Hobbes-esque Star Wars 7 comics

February 22, 2016

Perspective assures me that everything will be ok. Good friends assure me that I don't have to be.

amor fati

"Apes don't read PHILOSOPHY!"
"Yes they do Otto, they just don't UNDERSTAND it!"
A Fish Called Wanda
For a few weeks I've been rolling the concept of "Amor Fati" -- a love of ones fate, the good and the bad -- around in my head, and been finding it comforting and energizing.

The thing is, I find its meaning a little difficult to describe to others, to put into words - and Melissa pointed out that's not a comfortable feeling for me. (Also, it's a little weird that its popularization comes in part of Nietzsche...)

"Amor Fati" is a complementary fit to other part of classical stoicism, with that philosophy's encouragement to divide events into those that you have control over and those that you don't. That's a good start for me, with my deeply embedded need to not let a situation go pear-shaped if I can be a martyr and "save" it. "Amor Fati" somehow completes that; not only can I recognize things are out of my control, but I can learn to embrace the circumstance in its entirety. (Embrace this circumstance, 'cause it's the only one you're gonna get!)

There's the obvious objection to loving the bad as well as the good... if you were really good at that, could you greet a stubbed toe or traffic jam or lost job with as much enthusiasm as a great movie or a raise? And so, without that general motivation to make things ("objectively") better for you or those around you, wouldn't you let things ("objectively") slip and get worse? I don't have a great counter to that, just an intuition that A. yeah, I don't think I'm likely to reach that kind of zen equanimity and B. accepting and loving that there will be more pleasant and less pleasant outcomes breaks through fears and anxieties about the latter, and those fears tend to be more stifling of positive action than tranquil, passive acceptance .

As with most of my attempts to find comforting philosophy, there can be a "first world problem" aspect to it, and I don't know how well it extends to truly trying circumstances. I do enjoy finding some parallels in other places though. At one point I learned the trick of recasting anxiety as excitement - physiologically their pretty similar - and "Amor Fati" helps with that, because you will love even the bad outcome you're nervous about. In the military, they talk about "embracing the suck" and even get a perverse pride in what they've muddled through. Finally, I guess "Amor Fati" is kind of a secular version of believers who find consolation in sad things as being part of "God's Will" - those believers tend to count on a divine plan that's ultimately for good in a way I can't, but I'm guessing it's a similar feeling in the meanwhile.

Anyway, I commisioned the designer Bnomio to recast this work on "Tempus Fugit" as "Amor Fati", and it's currently my iPhone wallpaper... (it will be my phone case when it's time for a new one.) Having this reminder literally at hand (combined with things I already like about the iPhone's PDA/organizing part of my life) is great, the phone becomes a worry stone... a non-worry stone. The ship may be foundering, our ultimate end has always been visible in the distance, time can tick away - but I love it.

heh, two years ago I posted the perfect complement quote to today's essay:
There may be more beautiful times, but this one is ours.
Jean-Paul Sartre

People might know that 222 is my lucky number. So I was pretty psyched yesterday at 2:22, it being 2/22 and all. Obviously I'm looking forward to 2/22/22 ... especially because it's a *Tuesday*.
I hearby proclaim it PENULTIMATE TWOSDAY and plan to have a big party. (sadly, ULTIMATE TWOSDAY, 2/22/2222 will be a Friday.)

February 24, 2016


Some of my coworkers scoffed at how many browser windows I tend to have open - I use tabs a lot, but I tended to have a ton of browser windows too--

Starting today, not anymore! In OSX I mapped it so cmd-n no longer opens a new window, I have to cmd-shift-n like I MEAN it, and in general I'll try to keep it to just one window per browser.

I think my old habit was a hangover from my Windows 95 through Windows 7 days; each browser window could have its own button on the task bar, and I kind of leveraged "physical memory" to keep track of what was where. OSX is much more app-not-window centric - every app puts its menu at the top, and only has a single entry in the dock. Limiting how many windows I have open is less "against the grain" of how its use.

Actually, this switch feels like could be a reinvigorating lifehack, a way to lose the clutter of lots of windows. Each browser has a single row of tabs, so it's almost like a thermometer reading of how distracted I'm letting myself be...

February 25, 2016

Oh sweet, One Second Everyday now does GIFs!

Man, 1.2 Mb... I guess GIF has never been a very efficient medium...

February 26, 2016

Infographics that offer timelines for "based on true movies" showing which parts were authentic and which ones less so.

February 27, 2016

On my dev blog, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Tab Bars.
6 profane seconds - "i laugh harder every time i replay it"
Trump and the art of going meta. This short-fingered freak is frighteningly adept. I listened to about 5 minutes of the debate, and was amazed at how Cruz and Rubio let him sound humanistic and rational as they try to paint him as a lefty for defending a "Democrat" line like "not letting people die in the street" - though I guess that says more about how Cruz and Rubio read what it means to be a Republican. He's as Teflon as Reagan, in terms of the idea that he'll pander and say anything (having totally revamped his views to be a total suckup over the years) is not sticking to him, even though it's completely obvious to anyone who hasn't drunk down the kool-aid.
And his promise/threat to "open up the libel laws" is some scary-ass Putin/Berlusconi type stuff... stuff the Republican base has been primed to run with, 'cause of how gosh darn biased the MM (mainstream media) is.
There's an old saying: Tragedy is a close up. Comedy is a long shot.
(that link is cued to that point in the presentation - they back their points so well.)
Simone Giertz makes the best robots

February 28, 2016

stuff.alienbill.com/amazonadder/ - Amazon has a thing where you can request an "Order Report", a CSV of all the stuff you've had shipped over the years (oddly, there seems to be no equivalent for digital orders.) Anyway, you can pull the data from them into a spreadsheet program, or if you're not so clever with spreadsheets, you can copy and paste the raw data into this new webtool I made. (All calculations are done inside your own browser, nothing is sent to any server)

The page gives you a chart of what you spent in each category per year, then a breakdown (sorted by total spent) by year, by month in year, and then by category where you can zoom in to total-sorted lists of what you bought.

My totals? Since 2004, about $16K. Trend definitely upwards - 70% of that's in the last three years. On the other hand, December is the biggest month for spending, so some big chunk of that is gifts.

Sigh, here's my top categories:
Electronics 4281.75
Personal Computers 1145.85
Video Game 1074.34
Paperback 1011.46
Toy 828.76

Paperback is around 1000 (hard cover is a bit below in the list, around 500) I really do wish Amazon included Kindle download data!

February 29, 2016

i <3 leap day.
I spent the bulk of last week sick, with a low grade fever and congestion. Saturday night I felt surprisingly miserable and the fever seemed as high as ever, but maybe that was some kind of last hurrah because Sunday I felt pretty decent and didn't run a temperature all day, so I'll use the old "fever end plus 24 hours" guideline, WFH today, go to band tonight.
Still based on my coworkers (here and in other cities) seems like a lot of icky stuff has been going around.
If Trump by some god-forsaken anti-miracle somehow wins it alI want to be able to vote Stuart/Colbert in 2020.
Every four years I feel like "I'm not doing enough for leap day!"

Today: a resolution! I've been really good at keeping up with a digitial todo list for- yikes, like 20 odd years almost... first on PalmPilots, then on iPhone. Lately (as in for like the the last 7 or 8 years) I've been using Appigo Todo. My pile of "due or overdue" - the stuff that shows up on the home screen icon - hovers around 20, give or take 5. And that's too much.

Historically I've resented Appigo's conflation of "things that I could start working on now" with "things that are actually due" (also I hate the sophomoric assumption that the more overdue stuff something is, the higher the urgency is (as shown in its order in a list) when in reality the opposite is generally true - if something has slid for a month, it can probably slide for another week, while something that was due yesterday might actually be pressing!)

But now I think I should embrace that conflation, so here's my resolution: touch EVERY due thing on my todo list, every day. Ideally, make a smidge - or a smudge - or a swoosh - of progress on it, but if nothing else, just bump it to tomorrow (or even beyond, if that makes sense.)
I know that everyone was psyched about getting Morgan Freeman's voice on Waze but saying "in .1 miles - at the roundabout - take the second exit - for freedom" is a bit much

2016 February❮❮prevnext❯❯